red food of ghosts


I am still on the hunt for a title for my novel. And as per my last post, I’ve been thinking about the things that are unusual or quirky about the setting of my novel, my main character and the occupations of my characters. Briefly, here’s what I came up with:

1) The setting is a coral atoll in the middle of the Pacific, a place most people have never heard off, called Tarawa. Tarawa is the capital of The Republic of Kiribati.

In 2004, when the novel is set, the island of Tarawa is a contradictory confusion of traditional myths and old ways and modern ways and Christian beliefs. One traditional myth is that the souls of the dead are carried to their deathly home on the outgoing tide (and the new souls are brought in on the incoming tide). Another traditional myth is that ghostly deities ate ‘the red food’ of their enemies (ie: were cannibals).

BTW The most well know books written about Tarawa and Kiribati (formerly the Gilbert and Ellice Islands) are by Arthur Grimble, a son of the British Empire and twice Resident Commissioner of the Gilbert and Ellice Islands Colony. They include A Pattern of Islands, Return to The Islands and Tungaru Traditions, edited by H.E. Maude.)


2) Detective Sergeant L Townsend is my main character. She was born on Tarawa and her mother is Gilbertese, her father is Scottish.  The family leave Tarawa when she is eight years old to live in Scotland. DS L Townsend returns to Tarawa when she’s 34, having landed a job of a life time with the European Commission.  DS L Townsend is a determined, feisty individual but like the island, she’s also a little confused about her identity: is she Scottish or I-Kiribati?

3)  One of the main occupations on Tarawa is fishing. However, DS L Townsend’s job is to assist in the setting up of a training programme to teach Kiribati Police Service’s finest officers how to better detect corrupt activities. The programme stops before it starts when DS L Townsend is accused of  being “culturally insensitive”. She is in danger of being sent back to the UK in disgrace. Then someone is killed. All the detectives in Kiribati’s Police Service are in Brisbane, Australia, on an Internet conference and DS L Townsend is asked to investigate – there is no one else. This is a chance chance to redeem herself.  Then someone else is killed. The murder is linked to the first killing. A third death is revealed. Could there be a serial killer on the island?

Prompted by the above, I made lists upon lists of combinations of concrete words and ideas. I then tried to combine the words and ideas to make a memorable and unusual title. It’s the unusual bit that’s tricky, of course :/

Here are the first ten (of many!). Which one, if any, strikes you as memorable? Answers/thoughts on a post card, please – or just send me a response here ;o)

Red Food of Ghosts

The High Tide of Blood

Drip, Drip The Blood …

Pigs, Palm Trees and Murder

When Crickets Scream At Midnight

Killing Kiribati

The Bleeding Tide

The Dagger Descends

The Twenty-Seven Waves

The Deathly Trap of Tarawa

With kind  thanks to Ulster Museum website for this picture: http://www.nmni.com/um/Collections/World-Cultures/The-Pacific/Gilbert-Island

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